How to be a happy vampire in the sun

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This is Caroline and myself on the beach in Maui. I titled this one "vampires at the beach."
This is Caroline and myself on the beach in Maui. I titled this one “vampires at the beach.”
I have pale skin, and I enjoy having pale skin. I dislike the beach, tan lines, sun damage, and 100 degree heat. However, in mid-July, my husband and I will be staying for a week in a Galveston, Texas beach house.

I don’t want to pull a Lydia Deetz, and have the whole week be one, big, dark room; I want to be a part of the fun without ending up looking like I was at the beach for a week.

Do any of the Homies have advice for keeping the sun off while keeping cool? (Other than liberal application of sunscreen, of course.) -Sandy

I feel you, Sandy! I’m fair-skinned, and burn easily. The beach is one of my happy places, but it’s also one of the most dangerous places for me if there’s no permanent shade. Here’s what this vampire does to prepare herself for some major sun time…

Sunblock (duh)

I know you said not to mention it, but I just wanted to put my hat in the ring for this stuff — the kind that’s not greasy though, because I HATE applying sunblock.

BIG-ASS sun hat

big ass sunhat

My favorite vampire in the sun accessory is the big-ass sunhat. If you’re traveling, these cotton ones are great, because they’re easy to pack and won’t get bent out of shape.

One-piece bathing suit

Bathing Beauty One-Piece Swimsuit in Black

They’re not just for your grandma anymore, the one piece bathing suit has made a comeback HARD. I rotate between my Black Milk bathing suit, and my many Esther Williams suits. The less flesh that gets exposed, the more I’m protected from burning up.

It’s all about the coverups…

Seaside Stunning Cover-Up Dress in Black
I turned a long sheer black skirt into my beach coverup.
I turned a long sheer black skirt into my beach coverup.

Shady accessories

Rock a parasol like a fancy, old time-y lady!

What are your tips for staying a happy vampire in the sun?

Comments on How to be a happy vampire in the sun

  1. Fair skinned dive boat denizen here.
    1: Large hat
    2: Giant kaftans
    3: Aerosolized SPF 50+ sunscreen applied every 3 hours aka on wake up, after every meal and after every dive. Do not rub in.
    With these three items/actions I have avoided burning to a crisp.

    Also watch your swimmer bottoms. For the last three years when buying new swimmers the bottoms seem to be higher cut than the previous pair and exposing that one inch of virgin skin for the first time always seems to result in fried skin stripes if I am not diligent in applying sunscreen.

  2. My favorite sunscreen is actually an Asian sunscreen- Biore Aqua Rich. I really only use it for my face, but it’s lightweight and smells kinda like cucumbers and melons. I order mine off Amazon for about $9 a bottle.

    But I’m in love with Neutrogena sport for my body when going to swim, for sure.

  3. My husband and I went to Mexico (from Seattle) this winter and I brought along a white cotton casual button up shirt, in a slightly-larger size than what I might wear in real life. It was the perfect shirt for covering up at the beach, but it never looked like a beach coverup. I wore it every day we were there. The large-ness of it allowed for great airflow. Even though the fabric wasn’t SPF-rated, it was still a really effective way to cover up. I wore sunscreen too, for extended beach/water exposure, but for walking around town I only put it on my most sensitive exposed areas, since part of the point of the trip was to get some much needed Vitamin D.

  4. I wear Blue Lizard sunscreen because they are rated to the Australian standards and available in the US. I apply head to toe naked at least 20 minutes before heading out and reapply every hour if I’m in the water. I also wear zinc over the top of sunscreen on the spots that rub and burn super easily. This includes nose, lips, ear tips and that spot where wrist meets hand. Particularly when surfing and swimming.

    I have several surf shirts and board shorts which I wear over a bikini. (Long torso = uncomfortable in one piece).

    I have prescription Oakelys, Fives. They fit my small head, are mirror finish and polarized.

    I have several caps that I don’t mind if I lose in the water. I am struggling to find broad brimmed hats I like.

    I have outdoor shirts with ups ratings that I put over when I come into the shade on shore. No shade at the beach no me. This is one of the reasons I really dislike those resort beaches that make you pay $50 an hour for a shaded chair.

    I’m a pale freckled extremely bright red head who grew up in Australia and has a family history of melanoma.

  5. Sun burn isn’t the only thing you should watch out for in the heat! If you have fair and sensitive skin, you could be susceptible to heat rash.
    To avoid heat rash, let you body cool down if you’re feeling too hot or sweating for a long period of time. Take cool shower or baths more often than you would normally bathe, go to a swimming pool, take a trip down a lazy river, go to a dark and cool movie theater at mid-day, set up a fan at night, and sleep nude. Make sure to drink lots of cold water to keep hydrated and keep cool.
    On my honeymoon to Puerto Rico, the guest house we stayed at lost power during the night. I’m from Michigan and am not used to heat at all. I was so hot and sweated the whole night, I ended up with a heat rash that lasted for 3 months!

    • I struggle with this a lot. It’s a chicken and egg thing with me, what keeps me cool and calm in the heat is just about my favourite activity in the world, swimming. An activity for which (if outside in sun) you need to wear as a little as possible and be near the water, both activities which require lots of sun block, something which almost always guarantees prickly heat rash for me.

      What I try and do is take it really easy first few days of my holiday (I’m in Manchester in the UK, heat rash is pretty much only holiday thing for me!) while my body gets used to the heat. Clothing wise it’s loose and floppy and only one half of body exposed at a time, ie knee length shorts with sun blocked legs and a loose long-sleeved shirt or short sleeved shirt and sun blocked arms with loose long trousers. I can’t do long sleeves AND long trousers in heat, even loose flappy ones, something has to have actual air on it. Always sandals to let feet breathe, always a hat (wide brimmed panama for me) and always sit in the shade – I don’t do beaches/poolside without umbrella or other shade. As soon as I can, ie when the sun has gone down I shower off the sun block, relax inside for a bit and let my skin breathe. If it’s all gone wrong I find aloe vera gel great for soothing without clogging for both rash and burn if I’ve really slipped up, but I don’t slap it on straight away but try and give my skin some product free time.

      • I have gotten heat rash a few (regrettable) times in my life. To help it heal once you have it I use a 3-step process: exfoliate, treat, and moisturize. I like to exfoliate with some sort of soap or lotiony-type product, it feels more gentle than a loofah that can sting like the dickens. To treat, I use a spray hydrocortizone, like the type used for minor burns or bug bites. Then to moisturize I use something really light that won’t clog my pores. Clogged pores plus heat rash is terribly painful.

  6. I’ve been burned too many times to remember and if I knew where to buy a head-to-toe coverup without selling my firstborn child or being culturally insensitive I 100% would.

    My most useful clothing item: those biiiig circle scarves from American Apparel. They cover me shoulders to knees and double as a towel/throw/sling/etc.

  7. I’m a native Texan and did a lot of growing up on Galveston Island. It’s a really cool place and I still enjoy going (albeit in the fall and winter I HATE TEXAS SUMMERS). All of the above advice is pretty much your best bets, but you can stay out of the sun with museums, historic home tours and lounging on the patios of the seawall restaurants. And if you’re far enough away from town, the stargazing is AMAZING. Also, take an early morning stroll along the beaches of San Louis Pass. Just Beautiful!

  8. I can’t believe no one has mentioned drinking lots of water! Water is essential to keeping your skin healthy, and if you burn at all, your skin becomes less good at preventing dehydration. If you do burn, your skin retains heat and will continue to burn even after you get out of the sun. A cool shower or bath, or even clean cool cloths, will help “leach” the heat out of your burn and stop the burn from progressing. Watch out for burns that go all the way around a limb, burns near entrances to your insides (eg- eyes, etc), burns that blister, or burns that cover a large percentage of your body. You might need medical intervention to help rehydrate and heal.

    Also, pick up some aloe vera with lidocaine- it’s AMAZING on sunburns.

  9. I’m a very pale lady who worships the sun… So unfair… But I survive by the grace of my bright yellow nylon parasol, SPF 50 aerosol sunscreen, drinking lots of water, and either a floppy hat or my various sarongs and lengths of colorful cotton gauze worn as a veil. The veils especially help to capture some breeze around myself and keep my scalp, shoulders and arms shaded better than a hat does.

  10. I found this site from a Jewish parenting blog that I read. They offer “modest” swimwear that covers arms and legs. Most Orthodox Jewish women practice “tzniut” a way to dress modestly. While it may not be the most sexy or fun it will definitely cover you and still allow you to go play in the sun.

  11. I second the comment about Aloe Vera – it’s even a good idea to slap it on under sunblock or on sun touched skin that hasn’t got visible burn, because the UV rays still cause cellular damage before you can see it. The Aloe helps mop up free radicals and prevent oxidation. Look for a brand with the purest gel you can find (if you don’t have access to a plant you can squish up). Moisturizing with coconut oil before your sunblock can also help as it has a natural SPF (but it’s really low, so don’t use it as a sunblock alone unless you want to gently sautee yourself). You’d be delicious though.) Hats, kaftans etc are all obviously good ideas, but go for a dense weave – the wafty cover-up in the article is cute but it wouldn’t do much for you sun protection wise, here in the Aussie sun anyway. Woven hats can also be deceptively UV admitting, although all the little holes make them cooler to wear. Don’t let anyone tell you that can’t wear hats and long sleeve shirts in the water either! And don’t forget to sunblock the tops of your feet.

  12. I am a BIG believer in the Big-Ass Sun Hat, as well as some awesome shades. Just don’t do what I manage to do EVERY summer and fall asleep in the sun without proper sunscreen application because then you WILL look like a raccoon. Also pretty cool are the lightweight UV resistant rash guards, which a lot of my scuba diving friends would rock.

  13. I’m not sure if anyone else has said, but tights work wonders under a swimsuit to keep the sun off without sunscreen. You can wear black or nude, but both work very well to keep out tan lines. You can get footless ones or ones that wrap around a single toe if you like wearing sandals, which would mean you’d need to sunscreen up your feet, but that’s pretty easy compared to your whole legs.

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